Jennifer Fergesen, the Filipina traveling the world to write about food and the lives of the people who make them—many of them Pinoy—recently dropped us a line to share a bit of good news: she has just been nominated for a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award. The James Beard Awards is famously considered the Oscars of the international food world. According to the foundation’s website, it honors those who “exemplify excellence in their craft and represent the vast diversity of cuisines, foodways, beverages, and styles that make up the culinary landscape of America.”
Fergesen, an ANCX contributor, is nominated along with another food chronicler from the Philippines, Erwan Heussaff, and three Pinoy chefs. But while Anne Curtis’ other half has been cited in the social media category, Jennifer is nominated in the Journalism-Foodways category which “recognizes the importance of culture and history in food journalism. Entries in this category explore the connection between what we eat and who we are, with an emphasis on reporting.” The awarding will take place this coming June 3 in Chicago.
Jennifer’s in-depth story appeared in Eater and is entitled “Kimchi With a Side of Whale” which you can read here. It’s about this newfound culinary tradition in Alaska where maktak, which is whale skin and fat, is enjoyed by locals with, of all things, kimchi. Fergesen writes that, being Pinay, she recognizes why the combination works, as it reminds her of “fried pork belly dipped in spiced vinegar, sisig tossed with chiles and calamansi juice.” She says she ended up learning about this story after going up to Utqiagvik to write the ANCX article on the world’s northernmost carinderia. Fergesen’s “Kimchi With a Side of Whale” will also be included in "Best American Food Writing 2023," which is published by HarperCollins.
Fergesen has written for many publications around the world and has won awards for them. Her first story for ANCX was the top prize winner of the Doreen Gamboa Fernandez Food Writing Award in 2019. It was about the Filipina fish processors of the Faroe Islands. She has since written many other features for us, many of which are about Filipino families who are introducing the flavors of the Philippines in Alaska. She is currently senior editor of Comstock’s Magazine.
Photos courtesy of Jennifer Fergesen